Volkswagen Golf (2016)

VW sales plunge 14% across Europe in July 2016

Volkswagen Golf (2016)Europe’s big five new car markets declined 2% in July 2016, despite modest gains in three of them – but it’s an alarming 13.9% fall in Volkswagen sales that’s most striking.

Europe’s largest car brand suffered the biggest market share drop of any maker on sale in the EU, falling from 13.2% of all new cars sold in 2015 to 11.6% in 2016.

It’s still 23,000 units ahead of second-placed Ford, but volumes have now dropped below the 100,000 mark.

Of the individual Volkswagen Group marques, the Volkswagen brand’s 13.9% fall was the largest, but other brands were also down: Skoda by 10.8%, SEAT by 3.2% and even premium leader Audi was down by 3.5% (arch-rival BMW was up 3.1% and Mercedes-Benz was up 2.8%).

JATO, which collated the figures, blamed dieselgate: “The decline shows that Volkswagen’s emissions issue continues to affect the company”.

Looking at individual models, although the Volkswagen Golf was the best-selling car in July 2016, its volume was down by almost a quarter compared to 2015. It still had a clear lead over the second-placed Volkswagen Polo, but the rate of decline of the VW supermini was far greater than that of Ford’s ageing Fiesta, leaving them split by fewer than 500 sales over the month.

The facelifted Volkswagen Golf, due to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show this autumn, can’t come a moment too soon…

As for individual markets, post-Brexit Britain still managed to grow, as did Italy – but Germany, Europe’s biggest new car market by far, was down 4%, Spain was down 2% and France fell by a whopping 10%.

In July, France had fallen to fourth in the European new car market rankings: traditionally, it’s been the second-biggest sales area for new cars but the UK overtook some time ago and now Italy sells more cars than France.